In just one week, I’ll be boarding a plane with two students to head for England.
As part of Hood’s Summer Research Institute, we’re undertaking a project called “Staging the Past: History, Performance, and British Heritage Tourism.” A quick summary: Most of us are aware that history often walks a fine line between fact and fiction, but the reasons behind the fiction are often less clear. Our project will explore British “heritage” tourism, with a focus on modern performances of early English drama. Visitors to the modern “Shakespeare’s Globe” theatre – and other popular sites like the Tower of London and Stonehenge – have transformed history into a lucrative business. We are going to investigate why the past “sells,” and whether that past one of fact or fiction.
In short, it’s a pretty sweet gig. Our grant is paying for us to visit some of the biggest tourist attractions in England: the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Shakespeare’s Birthplace properties, Stonehenge, and more. We also get to see performances of the Chester Mystery Plays as well as Shakespeare plays in both London and Stratford.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good archive as much as the next professorial type (rest assured, we will be doing a bit of that as well), but this is a type of research I can really get excited about. And my students are pretty excited, too!
There’s still quite a bit to do, but I am chipping away at the to-do list (BritRail passes arrived via FedEx this morning! But I still have to finish pulling together my paper for the IMC in Leeds! And confirm our time at the Chester Record Office! And…). In no time, we’ll be ready to head to the airport and I’ll be able to relax and enjoy myself.
Can’t wait to share the journey with you here!